When that ship brought Sean and Claire back to the harbor in front of Haven’s home for the first time in over a quarter of a century, it was not the only ship approaching the growing settlement that night. There were no less than four other ships trailing behind theirs; one of which even appeared to be an honest to goodness British battleship.
Haven couldn’t help his surprised smile as he stood near the dock, looking out at the miniature fleet approaching. Though there was still underlying sadness behind that smile at the thought of pulling his childe and grandchilde back to this place once again.
“You really did bring your own fleet” Haven greeted Sean with a smile as he and Claire stepped onto the dock, both managing their own sad smiles. They were of course happy to see Haven again, and glad to have brought him the reinforcements he needed, but there was the fact of why those reinforcements were needed at all. And that fact couldn’t help darkening their smiles.
“Not really my own” Sean managed to hold the smile as he moved to embrace his sire “but you’re welcome.”
Haven hugged Sean and Claire both before also moving to offer a slightly more impersonal hug to Aidan, before he moved his blue eyes to the couple who were the last two Kindred to come down the gangplank. Glancing at where the other ships moved into port, aside from the battleship that remained rather far off from shore still, Haven moved his eyes back to the couple who had been unknown to him.
That’s when Sean’s light blue gaze followed Haven’s and he offered an explanation as the two neared “allow me to introduce Lord Daniel Denbourough and his wife Lady Anastasia Denbourough” Sean stated, gesturing to each of them as they offered their hands to Haven with a slight bow from Daniel and a curtsy from Anastasia.
“And you’ve even brought me more subjects for my modest Princedom too” Haven smiled back at Sean as he greeted the two.
“Daniel is actually the childe of Thomas” Sean offered a further explanation.
“Thomas?” Haven looked back at the sound of that name “my vampiric brother?”
“The same” Daniel confirmed politely “and this is my beautiful childe, Tasie” he further explained as he gently squeezed his wife’s hand to accent the words.
Before their greetings could go on, one of the dockworkers who had been watching the ships approach from the nearby group of said workers did step out of the crowd of his peers. He moved his dark eyes back out to the other ships before taking a few steps closer to the dock and the group of Kindred assembled there that night. Unexpected as it was for any of the mortal dockworkers to often approach any Kindred on their own; the eyes of the six gathered Kindred turned his way questioningly.
Just as their eyes fell upon the man who had now moved to approach them, his illusion fell away causing more than a few gasps from the other workers as he became Theo once again. Haven’s eyes immediately darkened at the presence of the other man, as his Kindred companions also seemed a bit surprised by the man changing into another right before their eyes.
“What is the meaning of this?” Theo greeted Haven accusingly as he angrily gestured to the approaching ships.
“Another Ravnos I assume?” Sean was the first to find his voice and direct the question to his sire before Haven deigned to even answer the other man’s question.
“This would be Taylor’s sire” Haven offered that simple explanation, holding Theo in his eyes with nothing short of hate clear on his otherwise beautiful face. At the sound of that explanation, the same darkness took up residence on the features of Sean, Claire and Aidan. While Daniel and Anastasia simply looked equal parts wary and shocked.
But before Theo could press for an answer to his question, Haven had used that supernatural speed and strength to rip a shaft of wood from the railing of the dock and plunge it into Theo’s chest in nearly the same moment. The quick and unexpected action caused more than a few shocked gasps from the mortals and Kindred alike.
“What the hell, Haven?” Sean asked, being the first to find his voice as his eyes moved to where Theo’s body now lay contorted and paralyzed upon the dock before them.
Without answering his childe, Haven’s eyes turned toward the still startled group of workers “you all need to go back to your homes tonight, remembering nothing about your visit to the dock aside from the arrival of the ships and my peers. Goodnight all” he finished, speaking all the words to the half a dozen workers there in that eerie yet authoritative tone. Without question, they all moved away, heading up the shore toward their own homes.
“Now that was quite impressive” Daniel replied in reference to Haven’s ability to control an entire group of mortals with only his words “I never thought I’d say this, but I can’t wait ‘til I’m 350 years old or so too, now” he added with a chuckle to alleviate the stress of the situation as Theo still lay there contorted before them.
“Can we get back to ‘what the hell’?” Sean repeated as the mortals finally were out of hearing range and nearly out of sight.
That was when Haven looked back down at Theo before he offered any further explanation “aside from the fact that he is Taylor’s sire, I made a promise” Haven offered quietly.
“A promise? To who?” Sean asked for further clarification.
“To Deborah” Haven responded in a whisper, knowing that his meaning would be apparent to both Sean and Claire then. Before allowing any of his companions time to ask any more questions “I’m assuming that battleship was heading to a specific spot up the coast?”
That was when Daniel spoke up “As I’ve been an advisor to the British court for several decades, it was quite easy to procure one simple ship from King George III’s fleet. And Griffyn was more than happy to be the one at the helm, at the request of London’s current Prince, of course. And there’s the fact that Griffyn’s psychic abilities are even more impressive than yours, Prince Haven. And he was sure he could see through the illusion that you told us was still hiding your enemy from us” Daniel stated confidently “so yes, that ship should be pulling into a nice spot right near the location you indicated for Baron’s currently hidden home as we speak” he assured further as he glanced up the shore at where the wake from the huge battleship was still slowly dissipating.
“I can only assume that Taylor’s already fled” Haven stated as he continued looking down coldly at Theo’s body “so if there’s still any illusion hiding the place at all, it’s this man’s doing, and this stake should have made it fall anyway” he informed.
“Well I haven’t heard any cannons yet” Daniel stated warily.
“He is a bit more powerful than Taylor. It’s possible he’s made the illusion more permanent, or perhaps he can continue it while in torpor” Haven stated in that same strangely calm tone.
“Well then we’d better hope that Griffyn can see through the illusion before Baron has a chance to get to safety” Daniel added with concern.
“Or we could just help our former Prince out” Haven stated in the same cold tone before he moved to reach for a nearby lantern “you may all want to move back a bit” was the only warning he offered them as he forcefully threw the lantern against Theo’s ribcage as it shattered and allowed the flames to leap forth, beginning to devour his body quickly as they all then rushed to get to a safe distance, fighting their own fear of being caught in any of those flames themselves. It was true that they could eventually heal from being burnt, but it was still quite painful to them. There was also the fact that if the flames were not doused within moments after touching their pale flesh, they still could indeed devour any Kindred whole; just as they were now doing to Theo’s still paralyzed body.
The flames continued burning away all trace of the other vampire while the others all tried to remain calm, fighting their urge to flee from the flames themselves. But it was only a moment later before they all found another distraction in the form of the nearly deafening sound of the battleship’s cannons blasting mercilessly into the home of that serpent that had plagued them for so very, very long already.
After several more moments of deafening cannon fire, it finally ceased. In that time, Theo’s body had also been reduced to nothing but a pile of ash. The only sound in the following moment was that of one of Haven’s servants rushing to douse the remaining flames and ash with a bucket of water before the dock could catch fire as well.
After another silent moment, Haven released a sigh that made it sound as though he were more than a bit shaken. Aidan swallowed hard at the eventfulness of this entire homecoming and all that came with it, looking between his equally silent companions before speaking “I’ll show Daniel and Anastasia to the Toreador house” he offered at last. Also eager to break that awkward silence, the two of them easily nodded their agreement to Aidan’s suggestion and moved to follow him from the dock.
As they moved away, Sean and Claire quietly looked to each other from their new position several feet off from where Haven was still standing there silently staring down at the pile of ashes “I should talk to him” Sean suggested to Claire quietly.
“You?” she asked in the same whisper as she looked up at her husband.
“Well, I am his childe” Sean stated, not quite sure why it was that Claire seemed surprised by the idea of him attempting to offer comfort to his sire.
“He’s killed someone” Claire replied, her volume dropping even more.
“Yes I know” Sean returned with the same question on his face as he watched her beautiful green eyes.
“Which of us do you think is more able to relate to how he’s feeling right now?” Claire stated simply, but pointedly, despite her voice breaking a bit as it always did when recounting her own sins.
Sean’s expression then took on a bit of sadness at her reminder, but he could not argue her logic. Instead he simply nodded, moved past Haven, and squeezed his sire’s shoulder reassuringly, before then heading off to follow their three companions as well.
Claire braced herself as she finally moved to a place near Haven while Sean moved off into the distance “was he really the one who did those horrible things to Deborah?” she managed quietly.
“Not just Deborah” Haven offered some answer, though his voice seemed strained as though his thoughts were somewhere completely different than his words “from what I know for sure, he also did the same to your former servant, as well as his own childe; for years” Haven offered further, though still spoke distantly, his eyes still downcast.
Claire swallowed a bit at that information “then he did truly deserve this death, didn’t he?”
“Yes” was Haven’s simple answer, eyes remaining down, though his voice broke.
Claire sighed softly as she looked from the ashes back to Haven’s face where drops of red were beginning to form in those light blue eyes of his “I know what it’s like to take another life; two other lives. But at least you know that this man did truly need to be ended” she attempted to comfort him once more as she touched his arm.
“The tears aren’t for him” Haven stated quietly.
“They’re not?” Claire asked, slightly thrown by that statement.
Haven then attempted to brace himself before offering her any further explanation “I just allowed hell to be called down upon Baron’s home” he stated, his voice shaking with every word.
Claire was more than surprised by his apparent sadness at that fact “isn’t that the one good thing about this entire night? That we’ve finally taken the fight to the serpent and won?”
“It wasn’t just Baron who we took the fight to” were the only words he managed before turning away from the pain of that statement and disappearing back into his home, alone.
Claire closed her eyes tightly at the realization that Haven’s current despair was not for Theo or Baron at all, or even for the fact that he had taken a life with his own hands. It was another who he grieved so very deeply that night. For all her wrongs, and missteps and hurts that she had dealt to all of them over the last 119 years, Awsha was still his childe, and he still loved her deeply, and always had.